What I Bought

What I bought at the Be liquidation auction

So I went to the Be liquidation auction last week, and was the high bidder on a lot of “BeBox chassis.” It was a giant pile of BeBox carcasses, piled high up outside Baron’s old cube.

When I went back the next day to pick up my winnings, in that pile there were 20 computer boxes, 19 BeBoxes and one random PC (a dual-Pentium II system, gutted), plus three miscellaneous 17″ monitors, and some keyboards, and some other junk.

I managed to squeeze 15 BeBoxes and the PC into my Integra hatchback, which was a lot more than I’d expected. I wish I’d managed to fit the other four, though, because when I returned to pick up the rest of the lot, the 4 remaining BeBox carcasses had been swiped. Oh, well, the auctioneers refunded me $55, and 15 carcasses is more than my wife wants in our living room anyway.

Tonight I processed three of the 15. I got two working, and set one aside as probably dead. Of the rest, at least three look like they might be salvageable. My biggest problem is going to be finding RAM for the machines, which use totally obsolete SIMMs.

The individual BeBoxes went for $175 at the auction, and I heard that not all of them worked. After the refund my lot cost $400 + sales tax + auction fees, or around $475. So if I get one more working, I’m ahead.

Not that that makes Rochelle any happier to have them on the floor of the living room.

Falling Into Holes

You would think, after more than three years together, I would know how to avoid the traps Rochelle sets for me. I don’t…

Here’s how it goes. Rochelle digs a hole. She gets on the other side of it from me. Then she says “Come here, honey!”

You would think, after nearly four years together, I would know enough to walk around or step over. But no, she’s smarter than I am, and I keep falling into the holes.

Q: “Honey, what time today should we work on X?”

Right Answer: “Why are we working on X today?”

Right Answer: “Did I commit to X?”

Right Answer: “I don’t want to do X today.”

Right Answer: “I’m working on Y today.”

Right Answer: “Maybe you could do X without me?”

Michael’s Answer: “Uh…2pm?”

NYE 2001: The End – 2

A terrific sushi party hosted by a retired sushi chef, a family tradition for New Year’s Day.

Edith and Damon’s neighbors, Dave and Joyce, are a retired Japanese couple who host an annual New Year’s Day party with their friends and relatives. Dave is a former sushi chef, and wonderful Japanese food is the cuisine (we will put the photos up soon, promise).

We managed to make it across the street around 1pm, with the goal of hanging out before we headed to get the airport to fly home. But the real tradition for this party is for Dave to push sake on the guests. “Kampi!” means “to the bottom,” and is the traditional toast. We heard it a lot at this party, so our plans to be mellow were for naught.

Even more fun, the hosts delighted in giving the women larger Japanese tea cups, while the men got the traditional smaller sake cups — all of which were continuously kept filled. So by the end, in spite of eating a large amount of sashimi and other delights, we were both, uh, very happy, but Rochelle was waaaaay more drunk than I was.

Somehow Damon managed to drive us to the airport (did I mention that Damon is superhuman?), where we were on to our next adventure.

Liquidation of History

Today’s auction of Be Incorporated’s assets is the opportunity to purchase computing history. Unfortunately, the market said they were mostly evolutionary dead-ends.

This morning I’m headed down to Menlo Park, where I worked for three years at Be Incorporated.

It’s been over two years since I left Be, and in the time that’s passed, so has Be. Today they’re just another victim of the economic downturn, and their assets are being auctioned off.

I was at Be during some of the most exciting times, including the first public release of the BeOS, being invested in by Intel, and the public offering.

Be was a special place to work, and BeOS is still unmatched by any other operating system in some areas of functionality and technology. Be, the BeBox, and BeOS have a place in computing history, and it’s a tragedy that it will be as curiosities, evolutionary dead ends, rather than as an important turning point in the computer industry.

I’m headed down to Menlo Park to collect my piece of that history. Some momento of what it was like to work there, what it meant to me, what the company accomplished.

I’m taking the credit card. Don’t tell my wife.

NYE2001: Part 3

Damon, one of our hosts in LA, is superhuman. He cooks us brunch.

Damon, one of our hosts in LA, is superhuman.

After partying until 4:30am, having slept only four hours, he and Edith pick us up at the airport at 9:00am in the morning. We are headed to brunch!

Except, unlike a normal person who would simply be unable to do more than find the nearest Sunday buffet, he drives us to his restaurant, Cinnabar, and he cooks us brunch.

Not any old quick bacon-and-eggs thing, either. A poached egg, on top of seared filets, on top of crostini, with a lobster hollendaise sauce. Two of them. Each. Bacon and really fabulous breakfast potatos on the side.

This was one of the two meals where Rochelle and I simply lost our heads and forgot to take pictures. Which is a tragedy, because these were beautiful plates of food.

Rochelle and Damon cleaned their plates. I ate all of mine, and the rest of Edith’s. I’m a pig.

NYE 2001: The End – 1

Working our way backwards this time, this is how we managed to make it home.

So I’m telling our NYE 2001 story from both ends, working my way towards the glorious middle, the amazing meal we had at Cinnabar. This time, our flight home.

We arrive at LAX two and a half hours before our flight, lit like Xmas trees (that’ll be another post), and we breeze through security (except for them finding that third corkscrew, that is). We’re now in the airport with more than two hours to kill.

So we head to the bar.

We spy a little Mexican cantina-style bar, drag our crap in, and take two stools. I’m not quite as drunk as Rochelle, so I want to “catch up” (a whole ‘nother story). I tell Rochelle to order me a shot of tequila and a beer, while I go use the bathroom. Two shots and two beers later we’re $27 poorer. Airport bars suck.

We head to the gate, get in the very long line to get our boarding passes, and meet a really nice woman who, it turns out, works at UC Berkeley, where I used to work, and we know some of the same people. The three of us have a great time talking, and we decide to sit together on the plane.

Except Katherine gets unlucky, is one of those randomly chosen to make an extra pass through the security apparatus, and we disappear onto the plane without her.

We’re boarding late, so the plane is quite full, and we have to go all the way to the back to find a row with three empty seats. There’s lots of people in the aisles, and when Rochelle has a little trouble dragging her suitcase around one group, the flight attendant asks if she is all right. I’m sure it was just the people, and had nothing to do with the amount we’d had to drink. ;-)

We get settled, Katherine rejoins us, and the plane takes off. Probably uneventfully, but none of us would remember it.

When the flight attendant comes around to serve drinks, she proactively asserts that they cannot serve Rochelle alcohol (we were talking pretty loudly while waiting at the gate, I’m sure they knew the score).

That’s fine with Rochelle, she’s got a headache, and is ready to pass out anyway, sparkling water for her. Katherine and I get two white wines. Rochelle eventually wakes up, and the three of us continue talking until we’re in Oakland, quite suddenly it seemed to us.

We get off the plane, make promises to get together again, and say our goodbyes. Rochelle and I make our way home to, well, you already know that one.

NYE 2001: The End

The last story of our trip to LA for NYE2001.

So I’ve already told the beginning of our trip, here’s the ending (don’t worry, the middle parts are coming too, in later posts). Although we were really only gone for two days, and only completely gone for one full day, our cats punished us.

Viciously. If you have cats, you know what I mean here.

Because we were too tired to deal with changing the bed linens, Rochelle and I had to sleep on the opposite side of the bed (our heads at the foot of the bed), cast aside multiple pillows, and even then Rochelle was woken up repeatedly because of the strong odor.

The next day, when I returned from work, I gagged as I came in the door. Besides the bed, Cecil had nailed our central heating vent, which meant the whole house smelled like cat piss. Very Bad News.

New sheets and blankets, some incense, a lot of open windows, and about 40 gallons of Nature’s Miracle later, we were able to breath, and go to bed.

Needless to say, we’re never again leaving Cecil in the house when we go on vacation, even when someone is taking care of the house (as was the case this trip).

NYE 2001, Part 2

We arrive in LA, and immediately head for a bar.

So we’re on our way to LA, on a Southwest flight into Burbank. Our arrival time is scheduled for 9:40am, and we actually get in early. Since we had very low boarding numbers, we were nearly at the front of the plane, and were out of the airport waiting for our friends within 10 minutes of touchdown.

They weren’t there.

Rochelle observed she had been surprised when Edith agreed to pick us up this early in the morning. Since both Edith and Damon have jobs that let them party way into the night, and they do, they are rarely up before noon.

We reach them on their mobile phone after a couple of tries, and sure enough, they crashed at 4am, and overslept. No worries, Edith and Rochelle know exactly what we need to do: head for the airport bar, and wait ’til they get there and call us. Which we do.

So that’s how we ended up drinking beer instead of coffee for our breakfast on a Sunday morning. (Actually, beer was only an appetizer, but more on brunch in another posting.)

NYE 2001

Rochelle and I took an impromptu trip to LA for New Year’s. Much fun and bad behavior ensued.

Rochelle and I took a relatively last-minute trip to LA for New Year’s, to eat at the annual private NYE dinner put on by our friend Damon’s restaurant, Cinnabar, in Glendale.

More on our adventures in upcoming postings. For now, let me just rant about Osama Bin Laden costing me my dot.bomb collector’s item Wine.com waiter’s corkscrew.

Rochelle and I always pack at the last minute, in a hurry, running around the house grabbing all the things we’ve almost forgotten to take. This time I grabbed an old backpack to carry the three bottles of booze we were taking down for dinner.

As we go through airport security, we discover that the backpack, which I haven’t used in months and months, had a waiter’s corkscrew in it, a very nice promo I got from Wine.com, back when they were still in business (we’ve been burned by not being able to open bottles of wine, and carry these corkscrews everywhere). They take that from me, and throw it into a cardboard box in the security station, where we can see the other knives, corkscrews, toenail clippers, and a spoon that have been confiscated for being dangerous weapons.

Another corkscrew, buried somewhere in my suitcase and completely forgotten, keeps me held up at the security checkpoint for another 10 minutes. We dig and dig and dig, taking more stuff out, running the case back through the security scanner, and back to digging. Finally we figure it out, a little Swiss Army knife that’s tucked into one of the small pockets of the case. That one goes into the discard box, too.

Since there’s no way for a person to reclaim these little items, I would imagine that our airport security workers are now completely outfitted with as many knives, corkscrews, toenail clippers, etc., that they could possibly use. So now most of this stuff is probably just going into the garbage.

What’s truly ridiculous is that they only found two of the three corkscrews we were unintentionally carrying. The third one got caught when we went through the security screening for our return flight, buried in the bottom of our insulated wine bag. Oops. Well, at least they found it on the second try…

More, Way More Champagne

In which we buy more than four cases of Champagne, because we could.

Rochelle recently read that Grocery Outlet, the very low-cost food market, bought up substantial portions of the inventory of dot.bomb victim Wine.com, and was selling it at a huge discount in their stores. Obsessed with a good deal, and obsessed with wine, it became her mission to strike while the iron was hot.

She bought a dozen different wines, all less than $10, and over the course of two weeks, we tried most of them. And most of them were undistinguished.

Because the first few bottles were disappointing, we didn’t get around to trying the one bottle of Champagne she picked up, until the Friday before Xmas. Rochelle, David, and I all thought it was pretty decent, especially considering we knew it cost less than $10. Then Rochelle looked at the receipt, and realized that it cost way less: $2.99 to be exact.

Can you see where this train is headed?

Yes, the next day we were in our car headed to Berkeley and the nearest Grocery Outlet. After digging through their wine stock, we found tucked into the back corner an entire case of the same Champagne. We bought the whole thing, along with a few other bottles ranging from $1.99 to $4.99.

At a taste test we organized on Xmas day, our $2.99 bottle beat all comers. This wine’s a winner, and that meant another trip to Grocery Outlet, this time, to San Jose.

This store didn’t have any Wine.com wines visible, at first, but then we realized that they had a big stash near the front door, away from the wine section. Alas, our little bottle wasn’t there, but we did find a couple of $10 bottles, which both turned out to be quite good.

Then, in line to check out, Rochelle noticed yet another stack in another section of the store. “Hey, what’s that?” “I’ll go check it out…”

Score! Three unopened cases of our little find. We bought them all.

For those keeping track, yes, that means we have (had) four cases of this Champagne. Fridays are now officially “Champagne Days” in our house. So are Saturdays, and any other days we think it’s a good idea.

Come and visit us, before we drink it all!

Proper Use of the Telephone

There’s no laws against it, but drinking-and-dialing is still poor behavior. Be sure you only call your closest friends.

For those who don’t know, Rochelle got the opportunity to buy our house when the former owner lost it to his heroine addiction. The bank foreclosed, and Rochelle got a great deal.

One of the consequences of that unplanned change of ownership is that there was no orderly removal of possessions. Most of his junk — random crap stored in the basement for years — was thrown away prior to Rochelle moving in. In spite of that cleaning, some traces of the prior occupant remained, and as the new owner it was Rochelle’s job to deal with it.

Today while working on our own Crap Abatement and Reduction Program (CRAP), Rochelle came across a scrap of his that she saved, a letter he wrote but apparently never sent. It leads off with a paragraph of truly great writing, which I will share with you now:

My dearest darling Suzzi Lastname,

First and foremost let me apologize for calling you up at such a late hour last night. I was on my way to greatness in the guise of don Julio el BLOTTO when following some minor gun play I decided to stop and rest my horse and relieve my bladder. As I entered the lavatory of the cantina, I saw before my eyes that most terrifying vehicle of verbal communications — the pay telephone. The rest is history. I hope I did not disturb you.

The tradition of Drinking-and-Dialing is probably as old as the telephone itself, or very nearly. Here’s wishing that you’re on the receiving end, instead of calling us.


Buche de Noel

The wait for our Buche de Noel from Boulangerie Bay Bread was more than 45 minutes, and we got the last one.

A follow-up to yesterday’s post about Boulangerie Bay Bread, that morning we went there to buy a Buche de Noel, a traditional holiday cake shaped like a Yule log.

We got there 10 minutes before they opened at 8am, and the line was already down the block, all the way to the corner. It took 45 minutes for us to work our way to the front, and the line was never shorter than when we first arrived.

A lot of those people were no doubt disappointed, because we got the last Buche. We also got an apple-cranberry tart, a couple croissants, some cookies, two sandwiches, and a big piece of croissant bread pudding (remember, we said we were pigs).

Next year we will be smart, and put in our pre-order a week in advance. We tried on Friday this year, but they had already cut off pre-orders by then.